Archive | October, 2014

Friday 56, 31-Oct-2014

31 Oct

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to a spooky edition of The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs. The community has been really great and I’m excited to jump in!

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I’m powering through this title so I want to use it while I still have the opportunity: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Here’s a quote from page 56.

Then comes sex and a stiff drink and a night of sleep in a sweet, exhausted rats’ tangle in our big, soft bed. Poor me.

Having read further into the book, this quote is great because Amy is still so confident in her marriage! Her ‘poor me’ at thee end is sarcastic. Flynn has done an amazing job of showing the readers how something that started so happily (as this quote shows) can turn sour. I won’t give away more than that, but know that I’m really enjoying this book so far! I hope to review and movie compare soon.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Advertisements

My NaNoWriMo Plans; on being a rebel.

30 Oct

I’ve been open with my friends about NaNo, but now I’m going to make a public decry:

I’m not going to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year

…in the traditional sense.

Last year, I powered through 50,000 words in nineteen days and ended up with a manuscript that’s has an okay structure and pacing that needs work with a character I don’t like all that much.

And today, I have the exact same thing.

I need to edit it! What’s the point of writing a NaNo book if all it does is sit on my desk collecting dust (which I removed when a moved but is re-accumulating) and never gets edited? The last thing I want is another 50,000 draft sitting on my desk to bury under this one. So I won’t be adding another draft.

Instead, I’ll be editing the first one. I hope to commit about a half hour every day to working on editing the draft I have. I can write the required 1,667 words in about that time, so this will be my equivalent. I hope to use write-ins around my area to write for even more time, but I realize that my schooling comes first so I’ll have to take care of that. My husband is done coaching for the season so he’s said he’ll support me around the house more.

I hope to update my progress here in place of some of my book review posts. I’ll have to play blog catch-up in December, but I can do that easily. So check back here to see how awesome I am at being a rebel!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Are you rebelling like me? Doesn’t it feel great? Any way you look at it, have a happy November.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-October-2014

29 Oct

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! I’ve finally started moving forward, thankfully! So here’s a new set of books!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis, but I don’t have it checked out now and it’s likely to be two weeks before I can get it back. Stay tuned. I’ve finished the next section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I want to keep plowing ahead with this one, it’s a struggle to stop each week. I’m making steady progress Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio. I’m around disk 14 now and I’ve renewed it for the first time. I’ll keep counting how many times I need to do that. And there are two new books! I started an audiobook on my phone, California by Eden Lepucki. This was a free Audible download courtesy of the Ford Audiobook Club. If you haven’t seen this on Goodreads, go check it out. You get a free audiobook every month and they don’t expire. This was the September selection so I’m behind on discussion, but I’ve got the October selection downloaded as well. This book is perfect for time spent unpacking and cooking. I recommend it. I’ve also jumped on the bandwagon with my physical book selection; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’ve heard so much about the movie that I want to read the book so I can go see it! I have two other books that I need to be reading now, but I’ve got to get this one out-of-the-way first.

Recently finished: I’ve finally finished Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King. YAY! I finished it and promptly took an hour-long nap. It’s that kind of book. I think this would be a great research book if I were writing a thesis, but this was not a good book club selection and I wish I’d skipped it.

I’ve also gotten a book review done, so check out my recap of The Compound by S.A. Bodeen.

Reading Next:  I’ll get a copy of The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver soon as a part of my work book group. The first person to read it really liked it and the second person is in process. No word yet to how that’s going.

Ideally, I’ll finish Gone Girl this week but with Halloween and the beginning of NaNo (which I’ll post on soon), that doesn’t seem likely. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Library Writers Group: Character Development

28 Oct

Hello fellow writers!

As we get closer and closer to NaNo, I keep thinking about editing, but I’m almost too nervous to think about it seriously. Luckily, my library writers group made me feel awesome about writing and I’m feeling motivated again. We’ll see how long this lasts.

This month we talked about character development. We talked about our favorite characters and why they’re our favorite characters. I think one of my favorites would have to be Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larson’s Millennium trilogy. She’s so strong and unique which was great because she didn’t remind me of any other character out there. Other favorites were Rosa Huberman (The Book Thief) and Charlie (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Then we talked about characters we don’t like and we gave general descriptions more than specifics. We hate characters who don’t learn from their mistakes. When a character makes the same mistake twice, you want to punch him. It’s a fact. But when a character grows and develops, you’re more inclined to like him. We also hated when our characters had no motivation behind their cause. We need a reason to want the character to succeed, especially if we would do something different from the character in our own lives.

When it comes to villains,a good villain has a ‘love to hate him’ personality. They’re not pure evil for no reason; there’s a force driving them to act against the protagonist. When I think about it, Voldemort is actually a poor example of a well-motivated villain. (I hate knocking my favorite series.) He wants to be powerful because it’s powerful. That’s pretty weak. But then we look at a character like Lucius Malfoy who’s evil because he made a bad mistake when he was young and now has to follow through with it to protect his wife and son. That’s some good motivation if you ask me (and if you’re reading this, you did).

We also want to read characters who are realistic. There are a lot of elements that go into a character being realistic and not all of them have to be met to give a good character. We listed a few:

  • Relatable
  • Flawed
  • Consistent
  • Not ‘captain special’ (not everyone loves them)
  • Speaks in a realistic way
  • Not taken to the point of over-developing a side character who dies soon after
  • Has a unique voice.

This last one is worth diving into. There are a lot of ways to give a character voice. Some simple ways are giving them a phrase that they say often or a dialect or accent that’s unique to that character. Whatever it is the writer chooses, it needs to make the characters read differently, especially in a dual-narrator book. This was a big complaint of Allegiant; Four and Tris sounded like the same person. We did an exercise where our group moderator gave us some quotes and we had to guess who said it. Of the six we did, we got four right (I got one! Go me!). A unique voice adds a lot to a character.

For practice, we did a sheet called ‘101 Character Development Questions’ by Cecil Wilde (which for the life of me, I cannot find a link to). It’s a series of (shocker!) 101 questions about a character to help flush him or her out. They’re divided into categories: Basic Information; Backstory; Tastes; Morals, Beliefs, and Faith; Relationships; Physical Appearance; General Knowledge; Specific Knowledge; ‘What if…’ Questions; and Miscellany. In our session, I got to Morals, Beliefs, and Faith before I had an epiphany. My character is Italian, born to native parents. His foil character is Irish, born to native parents. Chance are that in the time period I’ve written them, they’d both go to church, arguably the same church, every Sunday. And I hadn’t mentioned that in my story. Needless to say, I’ll have to add that in.

I hadn’t given much stock to these lists before, but I see how they can make you think more about your characters. Maybe I need to spend the time doing these. Maybe.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen (4/5). So this is what crazy billionaires do.

27 Oct

I found this book (yet again) on my book-a-day calendar in 2013. I was excited when I found an audio version of it and saw that it was written during NaNoWriMo! Well, the first draft of it was, but that means this is the brain child of a 30 day dash to the first 50,000 words. That’s so awesome.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Summary from Goodreads:

Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they’ve become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy.

For Eli, no amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day.

As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary—and their sanity—Eli can’t help but wonder if he’d rather take his chances outside.

Eli’s father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe—or sorry?

Wow. I was really sucked in to this one. Well, until the end. I found one thing really unbelievable there, which I’ll address later.  Other than that, I was really intrigued by this book. I thought the world Bodeen created was really detailed and I liked the small things she added in that helped me see the apocalyptic world through Eli’s eyes. This book really made me consider the value of living. If you are trapped in a compound for fifteen years with only your family and have to resort to some of the measures the Yanikakis family looked into, is life worth living?

I thought the characters were all very real except Rex. I didn’t understand is madness and it seemed a little out of left field. I know the author tried to explain it away by describing the turdunken scene, but that didn’t build the character enough for me. I still didn’t buy it. I liked Eli, and as he’s the narrator, it made me like the characters overall. I loved the fight between Lexi and Eli; I thought that was a great touch and it reminded me of myself and my brother.

Eli himself was my favorite character. I liked that he kept things from his dad when he thought he needed to, that’s very true to life of teenagers. I liked how he talked to his brother over IM and how he didn’t immediately believe that his dad had been lying to him and I really liked that he confronted his dad about it. He was forward when he needed to be and I liked that about him.

I sympathized most with the mother. She was stuck in a difficult place where she wanted to do what was best for her family and as much as she wanted to do things for herself, she couldn’t. Even when she didn’t agree with how she was being treated, she couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t relate to her pain, but I felt bad for her more than the others. Especially with how her husband treated her younger children. I don’t think I could have stood for that.

I liked Eli’s escape from the compound at the end the most. It was great to see him working with his younger brother and tricking his dad. It was cool to see him out-smarting and physically outmaneuvering a man with more paper-based intellect, but who wasn’t as well versed in real-life application.

S.A. Bodeen Image via Goodreads.com

S.A. Bodeen
Image via Goodreads.com

It seemed to me like the clues Eli followed were really vague and I doubted they were even actually connected. It reminded me of the scene from Men In Black where J is trying to find a clue and thinks each thing is pointing to something else. The statue is pointing to a pizza box that’s pointing to pointed lamp, etc. It was unbelievable and ultimately wrong. I expected Eli to be led down an errant path at well and when it turned out to be the right answer, I shook a metaphorical fist at the author. It seemed to be a convenient way to wrap up the book and it seemed like cheating. No me gusta.

As Eli is stuck in the compound with his family, family seems like the obvious theme to discuss here. The family was very fractioned in the compound, but as Eli says, they all have to work together to get out of it. The clues he followed relied on all of the siblings memories and knowledge. The ultimate sacrifice that their mother was willing to make of giving up her younger children for the older children was all about family. And the long-awaited reunion with Eddie and Gram was all about family. When the family finally worked together, they got out and could be together again.

Writer’s Takeaway: As I said, I thought the ending was a cheap way out for the author. I think if she’d taken more time, she could have developed a better ending. The details of the setting were so well done, but then the ending was rushed. She said in her closing authors note that she wanted to thank the NaNoWriMo staff and it made a little more sense to me. At the end of November, you sometimes need to wrap the story up quickly and get to the 50,000 mark. But the editing phase should have allowed her time to go back and add the needed pacing to the end of the book and make it more solid. I thought that was lacking.

An overall compelling and good novel that had a fatal flaw at the end. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfills Washington for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen | Book.Blog.Bake
The Compound by S.A. Bodeen | Books: A Pathway to New Worlds
The Compound by S.A. Bodeen | Young Adult Controversial Titles
The Compound: S.A. Bodeen | Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Friday 56, 24-Oct-2014

24 Oct

Hey all!

After taking a week off to move, I’m back to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs. The community was ridiculously supportive last time and I’m excited to participate again.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

As I’m in a bit of a reading slump, I’ve decided to use my Read Along With Me #2 book, The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar.

“Serabi has a hajaar things to do more important than taking a shameless girl to an abortion doctor.”

What a sentence! I love how it encapsulates a big struggle in this book (which is no spoiler as it’s on the first page), Maya’s pregnancy. It also addresses that Bhima (the speaker here) feels about Serabi, her employer and not-quite-friend. And it has some of the wonderfully authentic dialogue that Umrigar has dispersed in her characters. It’s a great representation of a book I’m really enjoying.

I’m sorry to have missed my second week at this new meme. I hope to be more consistent going forward because this is such a great community!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Read Along With Me #2: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar Chapters 9-13

23 Oct

Read Along 2

Here’s the third installment of the virtual book club I’m hosting. The book this time is ‘The Space Between Us’ by Thrity Umrigar which is absolutely amazing so far. You can look at all of our posts on the hub page. And if you think you want to join up, send me an email! We’d love to have you. There are three of us currently; myself, Claudia, and Ashlee. Let’s jump right into the questions!

Question from AshleeWho do you feel more strongly attached to – Sera or Bhima? And why? 

I’m on Team Bhima. I love an underdog and I think Bhima encompasses that phrase in every sense of the word! To add to her woes (which I’ll admit Sera has every bit as badly), she lives in a slum where disease and filth are everywhere and she has no privacy or possessions of value. I want something good to happen to her so badly. I’m completely committed to her story.

 

Question from ClaudiaDo you believe that Bhima is even looking to find happiness? Peace? Rest? Does she have hope at all for her own life since she is always looking out for the good of others?

I think Bhima is a person who draws happiness from those around her and her ability to make others happy. My husband is like this. If I’m in a good mood, he’s happy. If I’m upset but he can cheer me up, he’s happy. But if I’m in a bad mood and inconsolable, it doesn’t just bring his mood down, but makes him angry, upset, and slightly depressed. He tries his best to help me out and failing at that makes him feel like a failure for as long as my mood lasts. I see Bhima in a similar way. I think if Maya succeeds or things to well for Sera, Bhima feels success. She wants to help those around her and feels herself going up on their coattails, even if it’s just an emotional high. I love Bhima, I see a lot of my mother in her caring nature. I think that, if anything, she’s looking for stability and she’s bothered by all the change around her. I hope she can find that.

 

Ashlee has supplied our musing topic for this week and I really like it: Failed marriages and how they ruin everything. I hadn’t realized how many failed marriages there are in this story! I remember meeting the author and someone telling me she’d never married and didn’t seem interested. She lives alone, teaches and writes and cares for her elderly father. She doesn’t really have the time to date and seems fine with it. Knowing that, the theme of failed marriages seems a strange topic to push in this book.

It’s easy to find the marriages that have failed: Banu and Freddie, Sera and Feroz, and Bhima and Gopal. But what about strong marriages? Dinaz and Feroz is a good example. Ashlee already mused on how she’s afraid something bad will happen to them. I sincerely hope it doesn’t! Pooja and Raju are another interesting example. Pooja had a very poor example set for her by her mother and father yet stays strong in sticking with Raju. When it’s implied he was unfaithful, she makes her marriage stronger by preferring to think of him as she remembered in marriage rather than changing her idea of him so close to death. I think that’s very strong and shows her ability to forgive. Pooja was unable to forgive Gopal for hurting her as a girl, but she can forgive Raju now. I think that shows incredible growth and maturity. Yay Pooja.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. Please drop me a line if you are interested in joining us; we have so much fun doing these!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 22-October-2014

22 Oct

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! It’s safe to say progress has stalled. And I know where to point the finger.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. I just had it e-returned to the e-library until my e-hold brings it back. I’m about half way through and I’m really loving it so I hope I get it back soon. I’m working my way through the next section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. This book is so good and so sad at the same time. I’m torn. The book club book of the moment is Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King. Here I point the finger. This book is dragging! I can’t wait to finish the last 40 pages. I’ve chosen another book to read next to get me out of this slump! I’m making steady progress Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio. I put disk 10 in today! Here’s to progress!

Recently finished: Nothing this week, again. This is what happens when you move.

Reading Next:   The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver has gone to the second person in our three person rotation so I’ll be reading that soon. And, my ‘big’ announcement, I’ve decided to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to try to get me out of my reading slump. I hope it works!

I’m more than determined to finish Michelangelo this week. I’ve got to move on to something else! How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

21 Oct

My work book club is alive and thriving! We’ve gone through another book now, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. I have to say, this one was a hit! I loved it and the other two ladies seem to have enjoyed it as well.

The biggest complaint the ladies had about this novel is that it started out very slowly. The love of words was prominent in the big words and long sentences in which the characters spoke. There was a lot of setup so the reader could sympathize with the people as they lost their language. When it got to the part where the people wrote phonetically, it was really fun and those letters seemed to go by faster.

The people seemed to fall into the oppression they were suffering slowly at first. The letter Z is gone, they can live with that. When other letters start to drop, they’re apprehensive. But when people begin to be banned from the island, they’re already so far in that they can’t back out easily. The High Council ended up being not-so-benevolent dictators. We described them more like cult leaders who have imprisoned their citizens. It reminded us of World War II Nazis or the Spanish Inquisition. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

We were surprised there was so little reaction when the High Council closed the libraries. For a people so obsessed with and in love with words, they seemed perfectly contented to see their books away. I would have freaked out. We thought they would have reacted more. However, many of the people had little to no formal education beyond grade school. This seems odd in a place so obsessed with words, but loving words, writing, and reading, doesn’t have to equate with education. It made us feel bad for Aunt Mittie. How could she be expected to teach with no books and while every word she says is scrutinized by children waiting to have their teacher removed so school will be over. The poor woman.

The High Council changed Nollop’s role in their culture from one of reverence to one of devout worship. Nollop was a sort of Jesus figure who created the pangram so people might speak. When Amos created his sentence, Nollop’s status as a deity was instantly gone. He was undermined by a simple tradesman quite by accident. Instead of worshiping Amos, the people realized that Nollop was nothing special. S was quick enough to realize Amos’s sentence was a pangram, but V and I didn’t catch on until Ella pointed it out. And speaking of, what a fun name she has! Ella Minnow Pea, LMNOP. We all loved that.

This book made V miss writing letters. She feels like it’s a lost art. I agree that it ruins the fun of opening the mail. Normally I have bills and credit card applications. Around the holidays, we can all look forward to Christmas Cards (or insert other holiday here) but V remembers the times when she’s get letters from her family back in India. It would make her day to get one. Now we get emails if we’re lucky. Otherwise its texts.

We wondered what would drive Mark Dunn to write this book. He’s a playwright and as with all writers, we’re assuming he loves words. Maybe he’s the kind of guy who does the New York Times crossword every day and loves knowing those words that have five Es or provide a good synonym for joy. We suspect he had the idea for Nollop but couldn’t find a way to do it as a play, and decided to do it as a book instead. It would be hard to do this book visually. You’d need an almost constant voice over. Maybe a cartoon could accommodate. Probably not. A book is good.

And so concludes another book club reflection! V has already finished our next book, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver and S has started it. I’ll be the last one to dive in!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

20 Oct

I love when I find a winner with my book club and this is definitely a winner. I wrote a glowing book review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline a few weeks ago and this is my book club follow-up. A lot of the women in this group liked the book (along with our strong male contingency of one) but  not as much as I did. It made for a good discussion.

Two of us had heard of Orphan Trains before reading this book. That’s it! Kline picked a very small part of American history to focus on and I think that’s a winning combination because people feel they are learning while they read. After finishing this book, we all know so much more about a topic we didn’t know existed.

The book made several members want to know more about their family history. We can only learn as much from our grandparents as we gather before they die. I don’t know anything about my great-grandparents and its my grandparents who could tell me those stories. One member brought up a hypothetical question about if you could have dinner with five people, living or dead, who would they be? She’s always said her grandmother would be on that list because there was so much she wanted to ask that she never had a chance to do before her grandmother died. Vivian’s daughter was finally given the chance to talk to her mother and find out about her family history, even if it’s only the bit Vivian’s able to tell her.

A few of the readers thought the book was going to be about Kindertransport before World War II. (If you, like me, don’t know what this is, here’s the Wikipedia page.) In short, this was an effort to remove mostly Jewish children from areas that would soon be occupied by the Nazis and place them in the United Kingdom. Many of these children became orphans and in a sense, their story is like Vivian’s. They were adopted by those around them if their families didn’t survive the Holocaust.

The idea of trains going west reminded a few of us of Jim Fergus’s book One Thousand White Women. The idea of going west seems very permanent, as if those making the journey know they are leaving behind everything they once knew. I’m sure there are other books with this mentality, but these two stuck out to us.

Vivian’s life as an orphan reminded us too much of indentured servitude for us to be comfortable reading it. 200,000 children went through this train system and we only hear the story of a handful. Parts of the stories are wonderful and parts are frightening. It would be great to be able to say that Vivian’s story is unique, but it doesn’t seem that this is the case. This was the beginnings of social work and the system was not yet well established and the employees didn’t know how to deal with it. Take, for example, how Vivian’s near-rape was handled. Did the employee not want to admit something like that would happen, did he not want to deal with it, or did he not know how? Any way you look at it, the system did not have a way to deal with a child in Vivian’s situation.

A few members were bothered that the orphans were expected to work for their stay, but it was pointed out that in the Midwest with big farms and a lot to do, children were an asset because they could do work that the parents didn’t’ have to pay a servant to do. If the orphan had been treated the same as a natural child of the parents, they would still be expected to work the farm. In that sense, it makes sense that the children would be picked for their ability to work. It was the fact that the children were almost advertised for their ability to work that bothered us most. We found it interesting that, like today, babies were so high in demand. This is directly opposite to a child being able to work the land and pull their own weight. These children were wanted because the parents could raise them as if they were their own and shape their lives growing up.

Not everyone was a big a fan of Molly’s parallel story as I was. Though all together, we were able to draw a lot more parallels. Molly didn’t have the best placement life, much like Vivian, but it’s obvious that what’s considered livable has changed slightly since Vivian’s day. Molly was also hard to place because of her rebellious nature, not because no one was looking for a child like Vivian ran into. Maybe the system knew that Dina and Ralph weren’t ideal, but, like the Grotes, they were so desperate to place her that they did it any way.

Molly didn’t seem rebellious by nature, but she marked herself as one. Her Gothic clothing choices made her an outcast and it was a way to set herself apart without having to even talk. It was the easiest way to be alone.

Vivian and Dutchy finding each other seemed almost too perfect to be true. To me, it was the one part that was bit too much to believe. Their marriage seemed to be more about commonality and a shared history than it seemed to be about real love. We wonder if it would have lasted had Dutchy lived. Maybe having someone she could share her history would have been enough.

It seemed odd to us that she would give up her child when it was the only thing connecting her to Dutchy. Especially since she knew what a life without a biological parent could mean for a child. One thing that bothered a few women in our group is how Vivian would have explained to her friends what had happened to the baby. Would she have said she gave it up, or would she have led them to believe the baby was stillborn? A pregnancy isn’t normally something that can be swept under the rug so easily.

Maybe the reason Vivian didn’t have as much remorse about giving up her baby is because she knew babies were adopted by people who wanted a child, not a laborer. Like Carmine, Sarah would be adopted as a baby by a couple who wanted to raise a child.

Were orphanages a better solution to parent-less children than foster care? In foster care, a child can only stay in one house for a certain amount of time before they’re moved to avoid emotional attachment. In an orphanage, a child can be there for a long time, growing attached to other children and those who work at the orphanage. Today’s system works with foster care instead of orphanages, and while some aspects of it seem better, there’s undoubtedly drawbacks.

We felt that adoption is less common in today’s society than it was in the time of Vivian’s childhood. The main reason is that single motherhood is more accepted. Vivian couldn’t stand being a single mother but I think if my husband died in a war, I would still want to raise our child. I know I would be well supported and there wouldn’t be a negative stigma against me.

We wondered why children in books, movies, and real life are always looking for their mothers. Why not their fathers? Is there some attachment we have to the woman who birthed us than we do to the man who contributed the other 50% of our genes? I think I’d be equally interested to know who my father is. I think it ultimately comes down to knowing for certain that the person who gave birth to you is your mother while paternity is sometimes in question.

With so many books being turned into movies lately, we wondered how this book would look as a movie. We don’t think it would do well in Hollywood, but might be successful as a made-for-TV movie, something on Lifetime. It cleaned up almost too nicely at the end and had a perfect bow around it, which we don’t think mass audiences (including ourselves) would take too kindly to.

I apologize to the ladies in my group for how long this took! I’ve been busy moving, but I’m finally settled in my new place. We’ll be meeting to discuss our next selection, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King, in a short time.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!